The value of language training to L&D

by Brett Henebery08 Aug 2017
Studies have shown that language learning can have enormous benefits for organisations and their employees.

In addition to improving confidence and performance, employees can save an average of three hours or more weekly from possessing proficient language skills.

Employees who are able to speak more than one language can also demonstrate significant value to organisations who have to communicate with clients both domestically and internationally.

Alicia Gleeson, HR Director of Crown College told L&D Professional how one of the college’s Vietnamese-born trainers worked with a college in Perth in developing a 40-week training course to teach Vietnamese to its hosts.

“They are now conversing after a 40 week program. They are not fluent in Vietnamese but they are certainly able to converse and talk about the business matters with the Vietnamese players on the floor,” Gleeson said.

She said this has since resulted in a high engagement by both the employees and the customers.

“We’ve actually made decisions based on the fact that we now have a group of employees who engage with customers in the way customers feel comfortable being engaged with,” Gleeson said.

Research shows that 70% of employees feel more confident in their work and interaction with teams, partners and vendors upon successfully completing language training.
However, a 2016 study by Rosetta Stone found that while 81% of employees surveyed studied languages earlier in life, only 46% effectively used their learnings in the workplace – something that could become an issue in the 21st century economy.
As workplaces become more diverse in an interconnected global economy, the benefits of language training also apply to senior executives, says Ryan McMunn, founder and CEO  of BRIC Language System.
Munn says language proficiency can support executives to advance in their careers, and also helps multinational companies speed up overseas expansion.
“Every CEO or HR manager who wants to hire a language trainer struggles to quantify the value and benefit of language training to the business but there is convincing data to help them make their case,” he told Entrepreneur.
Munn said the “top gainers” by industry who feel the most impact are those in food and beverage, retail and communications industries.

Meanwhile, employees in human resources, information technology and operations departments have expressed an increase in confidence and work productivity because they were given access to language training.

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Why some employees learn languages better than others
Learning a second language can boost thinking skills